Sunday, January 31, 2010

My first month of 2010/365

I made it a month. I am trying to do a 2010/365 project this year. So far so good. It is really changing the way I see my life and my day. I am always on the lookout for an interesting shot to tell a story about what happened that day or to improve my photography.

Even on runs now I have my DSLR in its backpack ready to be pulled out when the "perfect shot" is possible. Makes running slower but I am having fun. Here is my first month. May the second month be as much fun.

I recommend this to anyone with a camera. Start now and enjoy the story telling potential that your camera give you.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My 250th Post... and a Black Violin

We saw an excellent performance today.  A group called Black Violin.  The students loved the performance.  They travel all over the place and if you have a chance to see them please go and enjoy one of the best shows I have seen in ages.  Here is the slideshow of todays performance.

Here are some videos...

Once again. Go see them if you ever have the chance!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Haitian Relief What Happened


cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

Sargent Park School raised $2100 for Haitian Earthquake Relief.  When you couple this with the Canadian Governments matching all donations we raised $4200.  This is very respectable for a school of only 1000 students.  How did this all happen? Let's go back in time....

Earlier in the week I had been showing "The Big Picture" photo essays from Haiti.  This started the classes thinking.  At a blog post I requested the students to leave comments behind on what could be done at Sargent Park School.

These are the comments they came up with!! Now they had to make it happen!! We had a meeting and the Grade 8 students asked the Student Council if they could use a Fine Friday to help Haiti.  The student council agreed and the ball was set in motion.

Three teams of students created presentations to show to the school.  Each presentation based on the age level of the students watching.  We chose K to 3 for one assembly, 4 to 6 for another assembly and finally we had the Grade 7 and 9 students.  The Grade 8 students did not come to the assemblies because they had already had many information sessions about what was happening in Haiti already.

It was great to see the STUDENTS taking charge of the situation.  They were empowered to be the ones in charge.  Granted I set the ball in motion and planted the seeds BUT they took the initiative to get the whole school involved.

Fine Friday is a great fundraiser.  The school suspends "rules" that can be circumvented by paying a fine.  We chose 3 rules; no hats, no iPods in class and no stuffed animals in the classroom.  All of these school based rules would be waved on the Friday if the students payed a fine of a dollar.  This meant that the students bring in $1 to $3 donate to Haitian Relief.

As you can see from the first picture we did it.  Every student on average brought in $2.  Over 95% of the student participated.  There are no costs involved so everything was pure profit as a fundraiser. Both teachers and the students were impressed with the amount of money raised.

All of this activity falls back into the 2 Minutes to Make a Difference Movie Project that will be finished by late April.  I hope that the students now realize that One student or person CAN make a difference.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Continuing Smartboard Odyssey

Today the students took control of the Smartboad and the Ustream Channel.  They were the ones correcting their work and it went OK.  I need to get them to practice writing more on the board.  There is a skill to not touching the board with their hand.  After yesterdays post on using Ustream I received a comment from Ian H.  He recommended  Webcam Max as a PC alternative to using Camtwist to stream the desktop to ustream. 

The kids took control and here is what they did. I use links and screen captures because the old Macs in my room do not like to wait and process all the embedding. 

Correcting Question 1

Correcting Question 2

Correcting Question 3 and beyond

Monday, January 18, 2010

Student Response to the Haitian Earthquake

We held our student meeting today.  The turnout was good and the students were excited to get to work.  They decided we would have a FINE FRIDAY. Students can pay a fine and be allowed to listen to Ipods and wear hats inside the school.  It allows all to participate for a minimal fine.  In a school of 1000 students we should be able to raise up to $1500.  We are allowing students to pay a double fine if they wish.

The group decided to create posters to create awareness, get a PSA spot on the announcements and make presentations for the rest of the school.  Each group would be responsible for different grade levels.  There are many gripping images out there.  Some just are not appropriate for the younger students.  On Wednesday the groups will fan out throughout the school talking about the earthquake and how it has devastated Haiti.

Here is a draft of the parent letter that have sent for proof reading...

Dear Parents

On Tuesday January 12 Haiti was devastated by a large earthquake.  Haiti already one of the poorest countries in the world scrambled to save its citizens.  In recent days aid agencies have been working hard to help the people of Haiti.  These agencies require money to keep the supplies going to people in need. 

On Friday the school is holding a fundraiser.  It is called FINE FRIDAY.  Students are encouraged to bring a dollar or two and participate.  The Elementary students will be allowed to wear a hat during the school day or bring a stuffed animal to school as their "fine".  For the Junior High students the will pay a fine to be able to listen to their Ipods or wear a hat.  This is a fun way to raise awareness about this important world event. 

All students received presentations about what was happening in Haiti.  For more information please check out the following websites:

Thank you for your understanding.  All donations will be donated to UNICEF.  This agency looks after children.  The students felt it was important to have all donations go to children.  The Canadian International Development Agency or CIDA will match all donations.  Any donation is greatly appreciated. 

It was great to give the power to the students.  See them take charge of the situation and start to get the message out.  To often we adults take control, this takes power away from the students when they need it the most.  With all the work the students have done on their movie projects this year they are finally learning what it is to be global citizens.

I will keep you updated... thanks for reading.

Using Ustream in the Classroom.

I love my Smartboard.  I use it extensively to connect my lessons to the web.  Slides go to slideshare and video is streamed and recorded through I use ustream instead of the smart recorder because the recording is instant and you are able to embed the video into blogs and wikis immediately.  Here is how I do it.

Attached to my smartboard is a Logitech Camera.

I use this as my mic and as my streaming camera.  I could use it to capture student work being done in the class. I have had students make videos using this device.

Now I use Camtwist to capture the desktop.  This allows me to use the camera's audio and to capture all that happens on the smartboard instead of filming the board from afar.
This is what the camtwist setup looks like for me.

Now I am able to select Camtwist from the ustream menu.  This is my video input.  I use the camera as my audio and I have an instant screen recorder.

For those of you on PC's I will have to figure out how you use your screen casting abilities.  Camtwist is only for Macs.

Tomorrow gets kids involved in the recording process.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Streaming, Smartboards and Mini lessons

I am going to do some innovative thinking over the next few weeks.  Most of it surrounding smartboards and streaming.  Hoping to get kids to create mini lessons and post them to ustream, or have their mini lessons done live in class to ustream

This should be an interesting week.  I know this is a small post but I think it is important to get back into the blogging spirit again.

Most of the work will be initally housed at the Sargent Park Math Zone

Haitian Earthquake Part 2

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Got Phi

I showed the students another photo essay on Friday.  I also showed them the comments other students have left behind.  All students agreed that something had to be done.  As I read the comments to them the more head nodding I was seeing.  They have decided to meet a lunch on Monday to come up with a fund raising idea.

While we were doing our own investigation of the Haitian Earthquake the other teachers in the school came to the room.  They wanted to make what the Grade 8 students had thought of a whole school project.  This was fantastic.  I was impressed with how the students ideas were spreading already.

Now the students will be running the show on Monday and taking responsibility for fundraising.  Here is one way to make students become activists.  I will update this post on Tuesday to tell you of how the meeting went and what the students have decided to do.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An experiment with Humanity... and 2 Minutes to Make a Difference

In recent weeks the students have been working on choosing a topic for their Movie Project.  With the recent earthquake in Haiti it is time to see if they are learning that one person can make a difference.  I am going to introduce the classes to what happened in Haiti and see if any of the students pick up on the need to do something.  Odds are they might not do anything but it will be interesting to see what does transpire.  Keep you updated.

Here is the post that the students will use.

Yesterday a great tragedy occurred in Haiti.  It was hit by a earthquake that was a 7.0 magnitude on the Richter Scale.

Why is it important to care?
Can you make a difference?
Leave a comment about what you can do.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Starting eportfoios

I feel very guilty that I have not written in a while.  Here is a cross post on the instructions I give my students about getting their eportfolio ready at wikispaces.  More content to follow. Sorry for my low output of posts lately.

We are getting ready to do some work on our e-portfolios this year. You need to have certain things done by the end of the week (January 15th).

  • You need a wikispaces account. Please use a name, email and password that you will remember.  

  • You need to ask to join your class eportfolio wiki.  Here are the links to the rooms.
  • 816 eportfolios
  • 817 eportfolios
  • 841 eportfolios
  • 873 eportfolios
  • At the class site click edit. 

  • The wiki is now a word processor. 

  • You need to find your name, highlight it and then create a link. 

  • Now press save. 

    Your name should be a red link.  Click the red link and you should see this.

  • Now you will hit the edit button and your eportfolio page is ready to be created.
Now you have your own eportfolio page.  You have some small instructions left.  Please follow them carefully.
  1. Type [[toc]] and enter twice.
  2. Type your four main subjects in this order each on a separate line Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies.  Please add a fifth topic of Other.
  3. After you have typed each of these topics highlight them and choose Heading 1 from the editor bar.

  4. Click save and you should have a framework for what your eportfolio page.

Please do your best to follow these instructions.